Vaccine effect now clear in Norway death rate: agency

The number of coronavirus deaths recorded has fallen significantly in recent weeks, despite a rising number of new hospital admissions, indicating that the country's vaccination campaign is starting to bear fruit, the country's Public health Agency has concluded in its latest report.

Vaccine effect now clear in Norway death rate: agency
Ole Berg-Rusten/NTB/AFP

“This might be an early sign that the most elderly are now protected, following vaccination, but could also be an effect of infection prevention measures,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health wrote in a weekly report published on Wednesday.

In the report, the agency noted that the declining death rate correlated closely with a fall in the number of those above the age of 80 testing positive for the virus, and also with a decline in the number of deaths reported in old people’s homes.

Espen Nakstad, Norway’s assistant health director, said that the clear correlation was “very gratifying”. 

“This shows that the effect of vaccination is good on mortality in the highest age groups,” he told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK.

Just four deaths were recorded in the week ending March 7th, the lowest number since the end of October, with the number of deaths declining steadily since the week ending January 24th.

Only 0.65 percent of those testing positive for the virus were over 80 this week, down from 0.87 percent the previous week.

Ørjan Olsvik, Professor of medical microbiology and at UiT Tromsø said that he expected the death toll to continue to drop to very low levels.

“Most of those who have died in Norway have been elderly people. We have now vaccinated 200,000 elderly people, and thus a large proportion of those who have the highest risk of dying from the virus have received protection,” he said.

But with growing hospital admissions and most people under 75 still not vaccinated, however, Nakstad warned that it was too early to rule out a return to a rising death rate. 

“We can probably expect ever lower death rates in Norway from Covid-19,” he said. “However, the number of admissions is increasing now.”

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